Tag Archives: Kitchen Essentials

Kalas Classic Sea Salt at Costco: Product Review

Even though my wife and I shop at Costco quite a bit, and therefore buy in large quantity, we are sometimes faced with purchasing the most mundane of kitchen essentials, such as salt. I don’t remember the last time I bought salt, but it was a while ago. I had purchased the 3-pack of Windsor Table Salt, at Costco of course, but years of cooking and boiling pasta in salty water had depleted our stock.

Kalas Classic Sea Salt

Kalas Classic Sea Salt

The question I was faced with was whether to replace our Windsor Table Salt with more of the same, which is really cheap – only $2.39 for three one-kilogram boxes, or switch to the Kalas Classic Sea Salt. As you can see by the picture, and by the title of this review, I chose the Kalas.

Now, the Kalas salt is quite a bit more expensive than the Windsor; it costs $3.69 for 3 containers of 750 grams each; not only is the total price more than the Windsor, but each container is quite a bit smaller. Why the expense, then?

Well, let’s get real. It’s only about a buck fifty more for what hopefully will turn out to be a year’s worth of salt. So, you know, not the end of the world.

I also enjoy the packaging of the Kalas Classic Sea Salt more than the Windsor Table Salt. The containers are round and made of plastic, which beats hands-down Windsor’s square cardboard boxes. They are more durable, and will not leak at the seams, because, you know, it’s plastic and the seams are fused shut.

When it comes to the salt itself, I would surmise that both have the same… saltiness, for lack of a better term, but I find the Kalas tastes better, more natural if you will, while the Windsor salt has what feels as a slight chemical, bland and overly refined taste. But that could just be me.

Both salts are iodized, which is not a big deal in developed countries, where we take iodine for granted, but very important elsewhere, where iodine deficiency can lead to severe and lasting health problems.

Overall, I could certainly have been happy with buying Windsor Table Salt again, however I felt like I was due for a change, and the convenience of the packaging, coupled with the better taste of the Kalas Classic Sea Salt, convinced me that it was time for a change, even if it cost me a dollar fifty more over the course of the next year.

Kalas Classic Sea Salt (3-pack) at Costco

Kalas Classic Sea Salt (3-pack) at Costco

Of course, you could say that saving even a dollar is worth it, when you add it up with all the other dollars you save here and there – just look at my coffee example – but at some point, you just need to buy the salt you want 🙂 When it comes down to it, you’re only paying 16.4 pennies per 100 grams of salt, so you can afford it. You’re not going through kilos of this every day.

In closing, I would like to point out that the Kalas Classic Sea Salt is a product of Greece, which may help explain why it is quite affordable. It is imported in Canada by Pilaros, who import a lot of other products from Greece sold at Costco, notably the Solon Olive Oil.

Betty Crocker Peeler at Dollarama: Product Review

I was initially surprised in finding a well-known name like Betty Crocker on a bunch of random, food-related products at Dollarama. After all, the chain is known for selling items very inexpensively, and usually, the quality follows the price paid, and Betty Crocker is better known for their cake mixes than kitchen hardware. That being said, I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by Betty Crocker Peeler I bought at Dollarama.

Betty Crocker Peeler at Dollarama

Betty Crocker Peeler at Dollarama

I was very doubtful about the value of this product upon purchase. I had had the same peeler for over 10 years before this purchase, and it was quality stuff. Metal handle and blade holder, all cast in one piece, pleasantly heavy. Unfortunately, it had become old and tired, and the blade flipped very easily mid-peel, hacking away pieces of vegetables, leading to disfigured produce and increasing waste. It also dug quite deep, perfect for shredding carrots for a salad, but less so for standard peeling.

The first thing I noticed about the new Betty Crocker peeler is that is seems flimsy. It is extremely light-weight, and the plastic feels cheap. Of course, I bought it for $2 at Dollarama, so you can’t exactly expect great things.

I did, however, expect it to peel vegetables, and at that job, it does work quite well. The blade doesn’t seem nearly as cheap as the rest of the peeler, and a good thing, too, since it’s the most important part.

Betty Crocker Peeler blade

Betty Crocker Peeler blade

Once I got to peeling, I noticed that the blade has a very different profile than the one I was used to, much less aggressive. This means that generally speaking, it digs much less in the vegetables and whatever else I need peeled. This sometimes means that I have to do another pass when peeling, but overall, much less waste than before.

I would not say that the new Betty Crocker peeler I got for $2 from Dollarama is a great product. It feels very cheap and flimsy, but does a suprisingly good job at its intended purpose. This means that for the money, this product offers excellent value. You’re not going to get a great cast aluminum grip, but you’ll get a decent, well-designed blade that’s sharp and easy to clean. Even if you have to buy a new one every year because the handle breaks, you’re still ahead if you want to avoid investing more money.

PROS

  • Sharp blade, doesn’t cut too deep
  • Easy to clean
  • Very affordable
  • Stylish design

CONS

  • Handle is very cheap and feels shoddily assembled

THE VERDICT: Unless you want to spend a LOT more money to buy something that basically does the same thing, but looks and feels nicer, the Betty Crocker Peeler is a very good option, and a BUY.

Update – November 5th, 2015 – My wife was using the peeler, and had a few observations to make. It seems that it is not so good when peeling hard produce, such as squash, since you have to peel upwards – towards you – and it makes is a bit dangerous. Also, while the blade is quite sharp, it is a little flimsy and will bend under these circumstances. Overall, the verdict remains a BUY, with this little caveat.

Kirkland Signature Minced California Garlic: Product Review

There are some things that one should always have in their kitchen, if they’re planning on cooking anything else than Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Olive oil is one such obvious ingredient that you can’t be without. Onions are another, and if you like stuff that tastes good, then garlic should also be at the top of the list. I personally prefer fresh, local garlic over anything else, but there is a problem with that.

First of all, fresh local garlic is only available a few months a year here. Second, it’s is *dreadfully* expensive. Ridiculously so. So much I may never buy it again, on principle.

I therefore have to rely on what the grocery store offers, and generally speaking, it’s cheap Chinese garlic. Don’t get me wrong, it does the job, but California garlic is much tastier, and the bulbs are bigger. Better quality, overall, and it hasn’t traveled as far to get to my table. When I run out of “fresh” Chinese or California garlic, or when I’m feeling to lazy to cut and prepare it, I’m happy to fall back on Kirkland Signature Minced California Garlic, available only at Costco.

Kirkland Signature Minced California Garlic

Kirkland Signature Minced California Garlic (item #581871 at Costco)

Now, let me get one thing straight right away: garlic that comes in a jar, even if it’s from Costco and bears the Kirkland Signature name, does *not* taste exactly like fresh garlic.

I usually would not use this type of garlic in a recipe that calls for raw, or uncooked garlic, as the taste will not be the same. The exception I make to this rule is my famous oil and garlic pasta, and I think it’s only because I’ve gotten used to the taste.

Overall, the Kirkland Signature Minced California Garlic tastes very … garlicky … although it is not nearly as strong and biting as actual raw garlic, not by a long shot. If you didn’t much care about having a social life, or friends, or talking to people in person, you could eat this garlic by the spoonful, something that would prove difficult for most people with fresh raw garlic.

The ingredients in the Minced California Garlic as simple: garlic, water and citric acid, which is used as a conservation agent. This gives the garlic a citrus-like after taste, which is not unpleasant but mostly disappears when the garlic is cooked.

My favorite use for this type of garlic is to include it in cooked recipe. When I’m in a rush, and the recipe calls for a few cloves a garlic, and they’re going to cook, I usually reach for my Kirkland Signature Minced Garlic. Quick, tasty and easy. That’s the ticket.

In terms of value, Costco is practically giving this stuff away. I bought a 1.36 kilogram jar of Minced California Garlic for the price of $5.79, Canadian dollars. According to the information on the jar, 2.5 ml, or half a teaspoon of the stuff, represents 1 clove of garlic. A quick, approximate calculation, and I say approximate since the jar is labeled by weight, in kilograms, and the equivalent is in volume, in mL. Thanks to the magic of the metric system, we can calculate that there are approximately the equivalent of 544 cloves of garlic in this jar.

This is a *lot*, and if we were to buy this much garlic, fresh and from California, it would cost a heck of a lot more than $5.79.

Here is the run-down of the information you need about this product:

  • Name: Kirkland Signature Minced California Garlic
  • Available at: Costco, Amazon (more expensive)
  • Price: $5.79 (in Canada)
  • Volume: 1.36 kilograms (3 pounds or 48 ounces)
  • Price per serving (5 grams): $0.0212 (2.1 pennies)
  • Provenance: United States

I don’t think you can buy garlic for that cheap, anywhere. While this Minced California Garlic is not a 100% substitute for the real thing, it works quite well as an occasional replacement and can last over a year (in the refrigerator) once opened. I heartily recommend it to anyone.

Kirkland Signature Dishwasher Pacs Product Review

Today I thought I would share with you another one of my regular Costco, Kirkland Signature purchases, namely the Kirkland Signature Dishwasher Pacs. They come in a little clear bucket with a yellow top, there are 110 pacs in the bucket, and the whole thing costs $10.89, Canadian dollars.

Because of the size of the package, I don’t have to buy this often, at most twice a year, and that’s probably an exaggeration. Like most automatic dishwasher detergent, Costco’s dishwasher pacs claim the following:

  • Grease-Fighting Power
  • Sparkling Clean, Streak-Free Dishes
  • Ease and Convenience
  • Lemon Scent
Costco's Kirkland Signature Dishwasher Pacs (Item number 567036 in Canada)

Costco’s Kirkland Signature Dishwasher Pacs (Item number 567036 in Canada)

What I like most about them, besides the fact that they work as advertized, is their cost: only 9.9 pennies per use. Thirty or forty cents a week to have all my dishes clean sounds pretty good to me!

Let’s be clear about one thing: this isn’t a gel-filled, swirly little pack with different colors in it; it is a no-frills, powder-filled pack that somehow manages to do the job quite well. Costco’s Kirkland Signature Dishwasher Pacs is a product that has delivered for me very well, at a very good price over the last few years, and I would be happy to recommend it to anyone. To learn more about dishwashers and dishwasher detergents and pacs, please follow this link.

Update – October 2nd, 2015 – Despite what I had decided to do – read the comments below – I’ve decided to purchase another bucket of Kirkland Signature Dishwasher Packs. The price has gone up since I last bought them, all the way up to $12.99, but that’s still only 11.81 cents per load. Very acceptable, considering the price of the competition has gone up, too.

Kirkland Signature Create-A-Size Paper Towels Review

I love paper towels as much as the next guy, and when smaller sheets started appearing among major manufacturers, I was happy, as I understood I could use less to clean minor spills than I previously did. When Costco’s Kirkland Signature line of products started offering the ‘Create-A-Size’ paper towels, I switched to that brand right away.

Kirkland Signature Create-a-Size Paper Towels

Kirkland Signature Create-a-Size Paper Towels

This paper towel offers great value; it is sold – at Costco only – in packs of 12 individually wrapped rolls for $15.49 (Canadian dollars), which comes out to $1.29 per roll. I have personally purchased this latest batch on special with $3 off, which lowers the cost per roll to $1.04.

Each rolls contains 160 11″ x 7″ ‘small sheets’, in a 2-ply configuration. This means a total surface area of 85 square feet of paper towel, or so the package tells me. I’m sure they did their math correctly.

In terms of absorption, the Kirkland Signature paper towels perform admirably, at least as well as major brands. When I find really impressive is that I can take a single sheet, completely imbibe it with water – or whatever else – wring it, rinse it, wring it again and reuse it. You can’t do that with every brand, especially not the cheaper store brands of lesser stores.

The bottom line is this: this is a great paper towel, and I’m happy to use it, and I’ll gladly recommend it to friends, family and readers. What I didn’t know is that there are people out there that take their paper towels seriously. I mean *seriously*. Check out this guest post on ‘Addicted to Costco’. I’m not criticizing, and it’s probably because of these folks that I can enjoy these highly-convenient Create-a-Size paper towels. That being said, when I couldn’t get smaller sheets, I just cut or ripped them as I saw fit and it never was much of a problem, or issue. It just seems that an arbitrarily-placed perforated line should not dictate how I use the product…

Update – September 21st, 2015 – I replenished my stock of paper towels recently, not the first time since originally writing this review. The price of the Kirkland Signature Create-a-Size Paper Towels has climber to $15.99 per package. When shopping at my local Costco, I saw that the Bounty paper towels were on special – $19.99, minus $4, so the same price as the Kirkland, so I figured, they’re on special, might as well give them a try, it must be good value, right?

Wrong.

Each package of 12 rolls of Bounty paper towels contains a total of 61.2 square meters of paper towels, which might seem like a lot, but pales in comparison to Costco’s paper towels, which clock in at a staggering 95.4 square meters, or a whopping 1027 square feet per 12-roll package.

Even assuming that the Bounty is a superior product, which it’s not, I would be a fool to ignore such incredible savings. Anyone would be. And remember, that’s when the Bounty is *on special*.